Next Event: January 21, 2017
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June 2016 CNW Meeting Review – Allen Gladfelter

Allen shares an abundance of info

by Roberta Gregory

Allen Gladfelter


At the June meeting, guest speaker Allen Gladfelter told the Cartoonists Northwest audience how he learned to color artwork with Photoshop. He was approached to create two full-color covers for Pixar’s Cars comic book at a comic convention, and eagerly accepted the job without actually knowing how to use Photoshop. Allen hired a professional and paid him the $200 he had been offered for the job. For the first cover Allen watched while the professional colored the artwork. For the second cover, Allen did the coloring himself while coached by the professional. I am sure a lot of my fellow cartoonists can relate to this hurried on-the-job training!

Allen is a multi-talented professional who works in a wide variety of creative fields: illustration, cartoons, animation and game design, storyboarding and package design.  He shared some of his extensive knowledge with CNW members in a very informative step-by-step workshop on coloring line art with Photoshop. The lesson began with a black-and-white line drawing and concluded with a very richly colored piece of art as Allen thoroughly explained each step in the process.

Along the way, he shared an abundance of valuable information:

  • Whether the finished product will be ultimately printed on paper, or will remain digital art (such as a web comic) will determine if the artist uses CMYK or RGB color. Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow and K (black) are the four colors used in commercial printing, while Red, Green and Blue are colors of “light”. (This brought to mind my childhood, looking very closely at a color TV back in the 1960s and seeing that the screen was made up of tiny clumps of Red, Green and Blue dots instead of the Red, Yellow and Blue of the “Color Wheel” I had just learned in painting class at school.)
  • If the work will end up in print form, keep in mind that paper can only take so much ink before the colors become too dark or muddy. The percentages of each color should be toned down so that it will print clearly. This is not the case for digital or web art.
  • Digital color requires separate layers of color and line art; be sure to label them because it is easy to lose track of what goes on the different layers.
  • One can “Google” various color palettes to suit your artwork (examples: Maritime, Desert, Twilight) to inspire the selection of color on your piece. The result will hold together much better than colors chosen carelessly.
  • When adding shading or shadow to colors,be judicious in the use of the color Black, which tends to adulterate the saturation of a color. It should be used sparingly, if at all. Red is more forgiving, while Yellow is a very delicate color and challenging to modify.
  • To lighten or darken a “warm” color, use another “warm” color, and the same applies to “cool” colors, or else the color may be dulled or muddied.
  • A gradient can be created to add shading to the filled-in color in a drawing. Also, a gradient can be used on the line art itself for an atmospheric effect. This is called a “Color Hold.”
  • Older versions of Photoshop such as CS4 aren’t always compatible with newer operating systems, and some work-arounds may be needed.
Allen Gladfelter demonstrating the tips in Photoshop

Allen Gladfelter demonstrating these tips in Photoshop

This is only a small percentage of all the helpful hints and tricks of the trade Allen shared with CNW members. I have only ventured into digital coloring a few times (and, of course, only when assigned a project that required color—sound familiar?); I have often found it intimidating and confusing, but this presentation was very inspiring, and I am ready to give it a go once more.

Thank you, Allen!